Thinking One Move Ahead

Date: January 27, 2014 Author: Categories: News

by Jodi Greenwald
Shalom Park Freedom School encourages its scholars and funders to plan, prepare for future

In planning a movie fundraiser April 25 for the Shalom Park Freedom School (SPFS), organizers wanted to convey the same message that underlies the summer program itself: Thinking one move ahead can help ensure a successful future.

Freedom Schools are programs of the national Children’s Defense Fund, with the goal of preventing disadvantaged children from suffering learning loss over the summers. Eight agencies on Shalom Park have been hosting a Freedom School for two years now, and it is the first Freedom School in the country that is sponsored by a Jewish community.

But the Shalom Park Freedom School agencies aren’t just looking ahead to year three; they want to double the program’s longevity and possibly open it to more children.

“For many of the kids, they don’t have a lot of continuity and stability. This program is an important thing in their lives,” said Amy Lefkof, enrichment coordinator and overall co-chair (with Deidre Grubb) of the Shalom Park Freedom School. “With a pipeline of funds, we can provide that continuity.”

So, when it came time to plan a fundraiser, event chair Cheryl Alley looked to the film “Brooklyn Castle,” which showcases how enriching activities such as chess can help close the poverty gap for at-risk kids.

The SPFS exposes its scholars (as the kids are called) to chess, too.

“The kids all know that chess is a mind sport, that smart kids play chess. And, they want to be smart kids,” said Lefkof, who started the chess club at Sterling Elementary School.

“Thinking one move ahead is important on the chess board, and it’s an important life skill, too.”

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